Community Law Center

Lawyers for Neighborhoods & Nonprofits

Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on November 6, 2014.

November 14, 2014

The commissioners came out of their conference room to begin hearings at 10:59am. All three commissioners were present.

Transfers and Amendments

Applicant Chang Bom Park and Hillel Schwartzman
Business Name JINP, Inc.
Trading As Kreis Super Discount
Address 1400 W. Baltimore Street
Type of License Class “A” beer, Wine, and Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership.
Hearing notes

The two applicants were present for their hearing, without an attorney. Mr. Schwartzman explained that he is selling the business to Chang Bom Park and adding Park to the license. As far as the licensees knew, there is no opposition to the transfer. Commissioner Moore asked whether the license is currently in operation. Mr. Schwartzman replied that it is and it has been operating without interruption for 26 years.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Franklin Square
Area demographics 83% Black, 13% White; 31% households have children under age 18; median household income: $19,183; 38% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1400 W Baltimore St, Baltimore, MD 21223
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Mark Caplan
Business Name Mount Vernon Marketplace, LLC
Trading As Mount Vernon Marketplace
Address 520 Park Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine, and Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine, and Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilites and seat capacity for a minimum of 75 people.
Hearing notes

Ms. Caroline Hecker, of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP, represented the applicant. Hecker submitted a packet to each commissioner containing her exhibits. She explained that her client was requesting a Class B restaurant license to serve beer, wine and liquor. Chairman Ward asked how much money has been spent, and she replied that, out of a budget of $990,000, the applicant has so far spent $80,000. Mr. Caplan, the applicant, is a part owner in the business and also has an ownership interest in the real estate at 520 Park Avenue. Hecker submitted a Certificate of Good Standing for the corporate entity on the application. The new “restaurant” will be located in a 15,000 squard foot space in the bottom of an apartment building. The concept is similar to that of Belvedere Square, and the business has eight prospective tenants so far. The application proposes that the landlord would hold the liquor license, and individual tenants would operate as agents of the landlord within the space. Hecker argued that this plan would give the surrounding community an added measure of comfort to know that the landlord has an interest in the liquor license. Hecker said that the plan meets the definition of restaurant, as described in Article 2B and the Rules and Regulations. The Mount Vernon Marketplace plans to open in first quarter of 2015. They are also requesting permission for outdoor seating. Hecker said that the sidewalks around the building are 14 feet wide, and outdoor seating is permitted by right in a B-4 zone. There will be 108 indoor seats. They plan to open at 6am and close at 11pm. The applicant is also requesting permission to have live entertainment, as an amenity for patrons of the restaurant. Caplan and his attorneys worked with the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association to develop restrictions on the live entertainment. The attorney submitted a petition in support of the project with signatures from people who live nearby.

Commissioner Moore asked, “who will be dispensing the alcohol?” Hecker responded, “the individual tenants within the marketplace.” Moore asked, “how’s that going to work?” The attorney responded that Mr. Caplan has not yet identified all of the entities that will be serving alcohol at Mount Vernon Marketplace, though they have received eight letters of intent. Moore mused that potentially all eight tenants could serve alcohol, then.

Commissioner Jones asked, “would this be an arena license?” Hecker replied that it would be a restaurant license, not an arena license. Commissioner Moore said that an arena license seems more applicable to this kind of situation. Hecker disagreed, saying that the Marketplace concept is more like a food court. She argued that there is nothing in the regulations that restricts a restaurant license to one entity doing the serving. Moore noted that, the previous week, the Board had approved a single restaurant for a vendor at Belvedere Square. She noted that Belvedere Square has also applied for an arena license, and she was confused about what the Board is being asked to do. Hecker responded that an arena license is for a much larger area than the Marketplace, with a minimum capacity of 1,000 people, and would “theoretically involve folks moving about outside with their drinks,” “Mardi Gras style.” Moore pointed out that each of the vendors could purchase their own Class B license. Hecker agreed, but said that having the landlord control the license gives an added measure of comfort to the community. Since Mr. Caplan is on the license, he has every incentive to make sure his tenants comply with the law. Hecker and Caplan offered to provide a list to the Board of the tenants selling alcohol under the license.

Mr. Steve Johnson, from Mount Vernon Belvedere Association (MVBA), testified that his organization had come to an agreement with the applicant. The agreement says that tenants are only allowed to serve alcohol under a contractual relationship with the management company, and it contains restrictions on the live entertainment that will be permitted. Mr. Tom Yeager, of Downtown Partnership, was also present in support of the project.

Zoning B-4-1
Neighborhood Mount Vernon
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 701 Cathedral St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Attorney for licensee Ms. Caroline Hecker, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Granted
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Rule 3.01 of the Liquor Board’s Rules and Regulations state that “every licensee must be the actual owner and operator of the business conducted on the licensed premises.” In this case, Mr. Caplan is the owner and operator of the building, but he is not the owner and operator of each individual lessee, which will be the separate businesses allowed to serve alcohol under this liquor license.

Applicant Jose Ribadeneira
Business Name Latin Palace-Uno, Inc.
Trading As Latin Palace
Address 509-13 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to remove restrictions- “No live entertainment in restaurant café theater area except live theatrical performance after 7 pm, no adult entertainment allowed, no form of live entertainment/dancing to general public on premise, non-club members no allowed on premises unless accompanied by a club member, food percentage must be 40%”
Hearing notes

Chairman Ward noted that the fire department had shut down Latin Palace on Friday, October 31, for fire code violations, but that Mr. Ribadeneira had reopened the following day.

Ribadeneira was then asked to explain what he had done to soundproof his building since the prior hearing, a week earlier. The licensee testified that he took out four speakers that had been pointing at the wall he shares with his neighbors. He put some soundproofing on the stage and on the speakers. Ribadeneira said that he would like to do another sound test with the neighbors the next day. Chairman Ward said, “are you requesting a postponement again?” Ribadeneira said no, that he believes he has done everything in his power to soundproof his building.

Ms. Susan Hughes then cross-examined Ribadeneira. She asked him for permits and receipts for the work that he had done. Mr. Ribadeneira provided a copy of a check that he testified was paid to a contractor. Ribadeneira first said that the contractor “provided him with information,” then later testified that the contractor had also done the installation. Hughes asked if the housing inspectors had come back out to inspect after the work was done, and Ribadeneira said that housing doesn’t do that in this situation.

Chief Liquor Board Inspector Shelton Jones testified that he had visited the Latin Palace three times in the past week. The licensee has attempted to soundproof the wall, but when the inspectors did the sound test, the soundproofing was inadequate, according to Jones. The inspector pointed out that there are two dials – one on the volume switch and one on the master switch. When they turned up the music to a level five on each switch, the sound was way too loud. Jones was in the neighbor’s house during the test, and he saw the neighbors’ dishes vibrating and moving across the counter. Inspector Joann Martin corroborated this testimony.

Ms. Sunni Gilliam, the neighbor in question, testified that, since Mr. Ribadeneira installed the soundproofing, she has not observed any difference in the sound level coming through the wall. She said that, even with the volume set at 3, no one would be able to sleep in her home when the music is playing.

The licensee replied that when the building is empty, the sound seems louder and carries more. He reiterated that he had removed four speakers that were aimed at Ms. Gilliam’s home. The licensee’s daughter, Katie Ribadeneira Garcia, testified that they had gathered to do the sound test, but they got backtracked because of the issues with the fire department. She argued that they were not able to complete the sound test, and she asked for time to do another sound test.

Ward told Ribadeniera that the community members and inspectors are all saying that the sound is too high. Ribadeneira replied, “we need to operate. We’ve been desperately fighting this for three months.”

Commissioner Jones said that it looks to him as though Mr. Ribadeneira is not capable of correcting the problem. Jones said, “you either don’t have the ability [to soundproof the building] or you’re refusing to do it.” Jones said that he did not want to postpone the hearing again for another sound test. Commissioner Moore said, “as I see it, if I were to vote on the application today, I would have to say no. The requirements haven’t been met. The impact on your neighbor is so tremendously negative. There have been so many opportunities to get this corrected.” Moore pointed out that she follows the Latin Palace on Facebook, and she noted that whoever runs the page had posted remarks showing a “great level of contempt towards this Board” and a “real in-your-face attitude about what’s required” which she found “extremely disturbing.” She agreed with Commissioner Jones that Mr. Ribadeneira has utterly failed to do what is required. She told the licensee, “I believe that you want to come into compliance. You are a longstanding business in the Baltimore community. You have the potential. There is value in having Latin Palace exist.” But Moore said that she doesn’t know what the Board can do to get Latn Palace into compliance. She concluded, “I feel like we’re spending an inordinate amount of time, care and concern, but I don’t see that concern coming from you.”

The commissioners then voted on whether or not to postpone the case for another week so that the licensee can do another sound test with the neighbors. Ward and Jones voted no on the postponement request; Moore voted yes.

Ward explained to Ribadeneira that “the Board has bent over backwards for [him].” He told the licensee, “it’s not the Board’s job to figure out how to get into compliance with the law. The evidence is overwhelming that you’ve not finished your work of soundproofing. You’ve been given that opportunity.” Ward gave the licensee the option of withdrawing his request to lift the restrictions and to reapply later, when he has completed the soundproofing. The licensee and his daughter decided to take a few minutes to discuss the situation, and the case was put on hold.

The licensee decided, after asking for a postponement once more and being denied, to go forward with the hearing and not withdraw his request.

The inspectors and neighbor were called again and reiterated their former testimony. The licensee and his daughter reiterated their previous testimony that they would be willing to do further sound tests at different volumes. Ms. Hughes argued that the licensee hasn’t given the community any assurance that he would keep the volume any lower than it has been in the past.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 509-13 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community Ms. Susan Hughes, Community Law Center
# of protestants 2
# of inspectors/police officers 2
Result of hearing Denied.
Vote tally 2-1 (Ward & Jones against; Moore in favor)
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

Hardship Extension

Applicant William Hohman, Michael Cunningham, and Charles Frampton
Business Name Homing Pigeon Club, Inc.
Trading As Hamilton Homing Pigeon Club
Address 4810 Gunther Avenue
Type of License Class “C” Beer and Wine License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d).
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the applicant in his request for a hardship extension. Mr. Kodenski told the Board that his client had applied for the extension within the 180 days that the statute provides. Kodenski said that the last time the license was used was April 30, 2014, when the license expired. The applicant submitted a hardship extension request on October 22, 2014, the 175th day after April 30. The Board did not inquire into the nature of the supposed hardship.

Zoning R-5
Neighborhood Frankford
Area demographics 15% White, 79% Black, 2% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 35% households have children under age 18; 15% households below poverty line; median household income: $39,144.11
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No, no.
Location of entity’s principal office Entity does not exist.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

The corporate entity listed on the docket does not exist.

Article 2B section 10-504(d)(4) states: “on a finding that undue hardship currently exists causing the closing or cessation of business operations, the Board may grant an extension of the life of the license for a time period not to exceed 360 days as defined in paragraphs (3) and (5) of this subsection.” The Board did not hear any evidence about any hardship at all, due or undue, and the Commissioners did not hear anything to suggest that such hardship caused the establisment to close. The Board is continuing a policy begun by previous Boards of approving “undue hardship” extensions with no explanation of any hardship at all.

Applicant Peggy Pennington
Business Name N/A
Trading As Pennington Pub
Address 5-7 Patapsco Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7″ Beer, Wine, and Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d).
Hearing notes

Ms. Connie Pennington was present for the hearing. Her mother, the licensee of record, recently passed away. Ms. Carol McCoy, of Morrell Park Community Association, was also present in support of Pennington’s hardship extension request. The hardship extension request was submitted on August 5, 2014, within 180 days of the last date of business.

The Board told Ms. Pennington that she needs to consult with an attorney to make sure that the license stays unexpired. Article 2B section 10-506(a) is the section of the code that addresses what happens when a licensee dies. This section contains requirements for the licensee’s estate, and gives the estate extra time (up to 18 months) to transfer the license to a new owner.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Brooklyn
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 4% 2 or more races; 10% Hispanic ethnicity; 40% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,644; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? N/A
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

Request to Reopen

Applicant Ronnie Player
Business Name New Thunderbird, Inc.
Trading As Club Thunderbird
Address 2201 E. Chase Street
Type of License Class “BD7″ Beer, Wine, and Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to reopen after being closed for more than 90 days.
Hearing notes

Mr. James Player was present and testified that he is the owner and operator of the business, though the license is in his brother’s name. He explained that he has been in and out of the hospital this year. He renewed his license on May 7, 2014, but he never picked it up from the Liquor Board. The last day that his bar was open was April 30, 2014. Two weeks prior to the hearing, on October 28, 2014, Mr. Player submitted a request to reopen his establishment, under Article 2B section 10-301(j)(4). When asked to clarify his dates in the hospital, Mr. Player testified that he was in the hospital March 28-April 12 and June 28-July 4. He has been recuperating since he came home from the hospital in July. He said that he had called the Board to let them know that he was sick and that he was behind on his taxes. The Commissioners calculated (incorrectly) that the bar had been closed 178 days when Player submitted his request to reopen. They voted 3-0 in favor of the extension.

During the break after the hearing, the Commissioners realized that they had made a calculation error; Mr. Player had submitted his request to reopen 181 days after April 30, 2014. They went back on the record in the hearing and pointed out their mistake. Commissioner Moore asked, “when did you call the Liquor Board and speak with someone from the Liquor Board about the situation?” Mr. Player responded that he had called and spoken to a male clerk two weeks before he wrote his request to reopen.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Middle East
Area demographics 5% White, 89% Black, 2% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; median household income: $15,415; 47% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No, no.
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Hardship extension approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Commissioner Moore told the licensee that this is the second hearing where the Commissioners have had to acknowledge flaws. A former employee had put hardship extension requests in the file and had never acted on them; he had also given out incorrect advice to licensees and not followed through when he was supposed to. Moore said that the last time that Player operated his establishment was April 30, 2014. She estimated that on or about October 14, Player had called the Liquor Board and was advised of the need for a hardship extension; Player submitted his letter to the Board on October 28. She told Player that, legally, he had 180 days from the date that he stopped operating to submit that letter, but he submitted the letter on the 181st day. She told him that the Board would consider his phone call in mid-October to count as his hardship extension. She said that the Board was making this decision based on their understanding of the failures of their own office. As the Commissioners went off the record, Moore said to Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth, “we need to look at see what else is out there.”

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Article 2B section 10-504(d) states that a liquor license expires after 180 days of disuse, unless the licensee has submitted a written hardship extension request within the 180 days, and the Board grants the hardship extension request. Mr. Player did not submit a written hardship request at any time. Rather, he submitted a request to reopen on the 181st day after he closed. When he submitted the request to reopen, his liquor license had already expired by law. Article 2B does not give the Board the authority to reinterpret or disregard this section of the law; therefore, the Board’s action in this case was outside of its authority. A license expires by operation of law, not by action of the Board. The Board breathed new life into a license that had expired, creating a new “zombie license.”

Also, according to an SDAT search, the licensee’s supposed corporate entity does not exist.

1:00pm cases

Violations

Licensees Yenys Silva and Thomas Hamrick
Business Name Carolina Tex-Mex Restaurant, LLC
Trading As Carolina’s Text-Mex Restaurant
Address 505 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine and Liquor License
Reason for hearing

1) Violation of Rule 3.02 – Cooperation: Inspector found second level was set up with tables and chairs, a pool table, D-J equipment, and a fully stocked bar. The license states that there is to be no bar on the second floor. When inspector requested removal of the bar, the employee refused to comply.

2) Violation of Rule 4.19 – Storage: Inspector found second level was set up with tables and chairs, a pool table, D-J equipment and a fully stocked bar. The license states there is to be no bar on the second floor.

3) Violation of Rule 4.20 – Alterations: Inspector found second level was set up with tables and chairs, a pool table, D-J equipment and a fully stocked bar.

4) Violation of Rule 3.02 – Cooperation: In response to a 311 complaint, the inspector visited the establishment and found patrons consuming alcohol on the second level of the restaurant.

5) Violation of Rule 3.06 – Sanitation and Safety: Inspector observed the bar on the second floor of the establishment. the bar did not have a three compartment sink or proper disinefectant solution.

Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the two licensees. The Board threw out Violation #5, because the Chairman said that if the bar was not allowed, then they can’t be held responsible for a sanitation violation.

Kodenski argued, as to the remaining four charges, that they are a “misnomer.” He said that the license says that they can use the 2nd floor for business. He submitted the original application and applicants’ interview form from 2005, which he had in his files. He also submitted copies of the menu. He said that the licensees haven’t made any changes or alterations to the building, except for changing the flooring.

The licensees testified that the “bar” upstairs is a service station, not a bar. They said that waiters go behind the counter to get drinks for customers. The Silvas said that sometimes when the restaurant is short of staff, people order at the bar.

Liquor Board Inspector Karen Brooks then testified that she had done a routine inspection on June 3, 2014 at 2:00pm. She saw tables set up for service, pool tables, DJ equipment, and a fully stocked bar. Kodenski pointed out that there was no DJ using the equipment, and Brooks agreed. When she checked the liquor license, she saw that it said that there could be no bar on the second floor. Mr. Kodenski pointed out that, in all the previous inspections, no inspector had ever had an issue with the setup of the establishment. Brooks agreed that previous inspection reports showed that everything was fine. She submitted a photograph of the bar for the Commissioners to consider. Brooks emphasized that the bar was not just a service station. Patrons were sitting at the bar on stools and being served at the bar, not at tables. She said that she charged the licensees with a violation of Rule 4.20 because there was a bar on the second floor, and “somehow the bar got there.” She also testified that there was no food being served, just alcohol, though the license is for a restaurant.

Inspector Joann Martin then testified about the charges on October 14, 2014. Martin said that she looked in the file and saw the previous violations that Brooks had noted. When Martin inspected the property, she found the bar still there, with people sitting at it on stools.

The licensees testified that when the inspectors gave them notice of these violations, they spoke with their attorney. The commissioners asked whether they had made any attempt to correct the violations, and the licensees said that they had only spoken with their attorney. They did not call the Liquor Board.

Mr. Kodenski then called Joanne Masopust, President of Fells Point Community Organization (FPCO) to testify in the licensees’ favor. She testified that the establishment has always been a restaurant, that she had no knowledge about any alterations, and that she had never been inside. She did say that the restaurant has never caused problems in the community.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, no.
Location of entity’s principal office 6803 Redrose Way, BALTIMORE, MD 21222
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Responsible for one Rule 3.02 charge. $250 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

The Board dismissed the fifth charge at the beginning of the hearing. At the end of the hearing, the Board also dismissed the third charge, for doing alterations without permission, because there was no testimony that the licensees had altered anything. They condensed the rest of the charges into one Rule 3.02 violation charge and found the licensees responsible.

Commissioner Jones said that he found it disturbing that the licensees showed a total disregard for the inspectors and did not follow the instructions of either one. Commissioner Moore agreed. She added that the Board has gotten in the habit of finding violations but then excusing them. Moore said that there can be no use of the bar until their license is properly amended. She said that her feelings were very much informed by the Board’s previous issues with Latin Palace. She reitereated that the Board is “out of that business of ignoring violations.”

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensee Haeng Hyun Kim
Business Name Samsung Liquors, Inc.
Trading As B & O Cafe
Address 1301-03 W. Pratt Street
Type of License Class “BD7″ Beer, Wine, and Liquor License
Reason for hearing

1) Violation of Rule 3.06 – Sanitation and Safety: Liquor Board personnel found exit door secured with a lock, restrooms appeared unsanitary and lacked soap, paper towels, and toilet paper.

2) Violation of Rule 3.12 – Public Welfare: Liquor Board Agent observed patrons loitering at the establishment on July 17, 24, 31, and August 5 and 19, all in 2014.

Hearing notes

Mr. Kim, the licensee, represented himself in the hearing.

Liquor Board Inspector Mark Fosler testified that he had attended a community meeting across the street at 1227 W. Pratt Street and community members had voiced concerns about excessive loitering and the sale and distribution of illegal drugs at the B & O Cafe. After hearing those concerns, Chief Inspector Shelton Jones and Fosler inspected the establishment and found that the exit door was secured with a lock. There was one unisex bathroom with no soap, no paper towels, and no toilet paper. The bathroom did not appear or smell sanitary. It was also oddly configured; there was a toilet and a urinal with no stall around either one. There were many individuals loitering directly in front of the store. Some sat on the railing at the entrance. Since the front door was propped open, the persons loitering would have been visible to the operators. Fosler observed the loiterers for an hour and 45 minutes. Fosler explained that the licensee has been instructed to call the police when loitering occurs and to keep a journal of those calls. The inspectors did see a journal, but there were only a few logged calls since 2013. There is a drug treatment center nearby, in the next block or two, as well as a public housing building.

The commissioners asked Fosler to describe what the loiterers were doing there, and Fosler replied that the “activity that goes on is indicative of… Certainly people aren’t moving. People are exchanging… I don’t know what.” They’re “passing things from hand to hand.”

The licensee submitted photographs, showing that he had improved and restocked the bathroom since the inspector’s visit. He said that people could get out through the exit door, but they would have to turn a knob to let themselves out. Fosler replied that people should not have to turn a knob to exit through an emergency door.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood New Southwest/Mount Clare
Area demographics 17% White, 76% Black, 1% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 36% households have children under age 18; median household income: $28,513.80; 30% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1301-1303 WEST PRATT STREET, BALTIMORE, MD 21223
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Responsible for charges. 2-week suspension.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward told the licensee that as an owner of a liquor licensed establishment, he is responsible for the behavior of the people on his property. Ward acknowledged that the drug treatment center may be causing problems, but it’s the licensee’s responsibility to adjust and correc tthe problem. Moore agreed. She expressed her sympathy about the drug treatment center and its impact on loitering. She pointed out that the issues with the bathroom and the locked door are 100% within the licensee’s control. Jones agreed as well, pointing out that the licensee had been before the Board before, on the same charges.

The licensee looked shocked and confused when he realized that the Board had issued a 2-week suspension. He told the Board that his lawyer had told him that he could come to the hearing by himself and he hadn’t understood what had happened. He pleaded with the Board to lighten his punishment, saying, “I’m an old man.” Ward responded that the Board had already given him a light sentence, because these violations are very serious. Ward told him, “you’ve got to get rid of those stragglers on your corner.”

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Sae Yong Oh and Sue Mee Oh
Business Name Oh, Inc.
Trading As Knight’s Liquors
Address 5139 Park Heights Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7″ Beer, Wine, and Liquor license.
Reason for hearing

1) Violation of Rule 5.03(a) – Class BD7 – Inspector found bar area dirty and not set up for on premises consumption.

2) Violation of Rule 3.06 – Sanitation and Safety – Inspector found three compartment sink filthy and filled with personal items (fry pan, body wash, air freshener, and kitchen utensils.)

Hearing notes

Mr. Oh, the licensee, represented himself.

Liquor Board Inspector Karen Brooks testified that the tavern portion of the bar was not being used for on-premises consumption, as required by the BD-7 license. The facilities “were in deplorable condition,” according to Ms. Brooks. She found “dust, grime, food, and personal effects” on the bar area. Brooks testified that, in her opinion, the bar is “not being operated as a BD-7″ tavern; rather, it is being operated as a Class A liquor store. When she entered the building, she said that the patrons told her that the licensee never lets them into the tavern portion of the building. At first, Mr. Oh told her that she could not go in the tavern portion, but then he changed his mind.

Mr. Oh then testified that he has owned the bar for 11 1/2 years. He told the Board that normally the tavern portion is open, but he had closed it briefly to make some repairs. He said that Ms. Brooks had told him that she would return to see if the tavern had opened, but she did not come back to check.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Central Park Heights
Area demographics 2% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 38% households have children under age 18; 33% households living below the poverty line; median household income: $27,238.61.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes, no.
Location of entity’s principal office 8030 New Hampshire Ave, Langley Park, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. 1 day suspension plus $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward told Mr. Oh that BD-7 taverns must have an operating bar during the entire period they are open. The tavern portion can’t just be open when someone asks you to open it. Moore noted that the licensee has demonstrated that he has completed his repairs and has remediated the problem with the tavern portion being closed. She said that, in the past, they have given suspensions of 3 days to 2 weeks, but because the licensee remediated the problem, a one day suspension would be fair, with a $1,000 fine. Jones agreed with the $1,000 fine, because of the licensee’s prior record of violations.

When he heard the punishment, Mr. Oh was very upset. He told the Board that he has been under a tax lien from the IRS, but he is now on a tax payment plan. He lost his home. He works 7 days a week, open to close. He is “struggling so much” and is extremely tired. He told the Board, “I feel like I’m in slavery.” He promised that the bar will be open in the future, every day. After hearing his plea, the Commissioners lowered his fine from $1,000 to $500, but kept the one-day suspension.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.

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